Menendez Says He Can't Recall Details of Slayings

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Erik Menendez testified Tuesday that he draws a "red blank" about the moments when he and his brother blasted their parents to death with shotguns.

Asked by a persistent prosecutor for the third time in three days to describe the killing scene, Erik Menendez said: "I must have shot my mother, and I guess I shot my dad. I just don't remember."

In an effort to remember the actual moments when he pulled the trigger, he said, he has undergone extensive therapy in jail and has even taken medicine, to no avail.

"I don't want to have a memory," he said. He was so haunted by the knowledge that he participated in the killings, he said, that he does not want to remember.

"I definitely always thought I would get caught," he said. "And a part of me wanted to be punished. . . ."

Erik, 22, and Lyle Menendez, 25, are charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 20, 1989, shotgun slayings of their parents.

The defense argues that the brothers fired in self-defense after years of physical, mental and sexual abuse.

Last week, amid extensive questions from his lawyer about the abuse, Erik Menendez gave his first account of the slayings, saying he remembered mostly that the scene "was horrible."

But prosecutors contend that the brothers killed out of hatred and greed. They maintained that the focus of the case is not on the way the parents lived but on the way they were slain.

Consequently, Deputy Dist. Atty. Lester Kuriyama continued to press Erik Menendez about the killing scene.

"Let's take it step by step," Kuriyama told the younger Menendez brother Tuesday.

The prosecutor asked him to look at four bloody photographs of the bodies of Jose Menendez, 45, and Kitty Menendez, 47, on a bulletin board behind the witness stand. Erik Menendez did not look.

"Mr. Menendez, when you were shooting at your mother, did she simply stand in front of you and take all the shots that you were administering to her?" Kuriyama asked.

"I don't know," he said.

"You have no idea what she was doing?" Kuriyama asked.

"I didn't see her. As soon as I started firing, I didn't see anyone," Menendez said.

"How could that be?" the prosecutor pressed.

"I guess because the room was dark and because there was so much noise and there was so much fire," Menendez said. "And maybe because I don't want to remember."

Kuriyama still demanded more detail. "Lets take it one shot at a time," he said.

Menendez sighed. "When I walked in the room, I was panicking," he said. "I just fired every shot I had. I didn't stop to take a look at what I was doing after each shot.

"I just fired until there was nothing left. And what happened in between, from when I first started firing, when I entered, it's just, it's just a red blank to me."

Troubled by vivid nightmares after the shootings, Erik Menendez said he went to his therapist, psychologist L. Jerome Oziel, and confessed that he and his brother had killed their parents.

Referring to Oziel, Kuriyama asked, "Did you tell him the guilt was overwhelming?"

"Yes," Erik Menendez said. "I told him it was too hard to live with."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
56°